To All My Former Students Going Back to College

In many ways I have never stopped being your teacher, and while your time in my classroom may or may not have been the intellectual pinnacle of your academic career (although we know it was), please know that I wish you all good things.

  • Remember to go to class.
  • Major in English. Lots of money to be made.
  • Call your parents and loved ones.
  • Pizza is a three meal food.
  • Change sheets.
  • Dirty towels will make you smell.
  • Learn from others.
  • Keep up with your money.

And take this picture on this post and make a 5×7 print of it at a drug store kiosk, place it in a frame and put it on your desk at school for inspiration.

IMG_8607

Looking at it once a day will probably raise your GPA by at least .3 points.

 

Open Letter to the NCGA and State Supt. Johnson Concerning Bonus Pay for Teachers

Dear members of the North Carolina General Assembly and State Supt. Johnson,

This may not be a popular opinion, but it is one that is a matter of principle to me.

I will be receiving a bonus this year for having a certain number of students pass the AP English Language and Composition Exam for the 2017-2018. Many of you may think that it will continue to somewhat ameliorate tensions with public school teachers like me. I do not think it will at all. I feel that it just exacerbates the real problem: continued lack of respect for all public school teachers.

I am not going to keep my bonus, again. To me it’s just academic “blood money.”

I have read about this provision of bonus money frequently in the last couple of years, especially as the amount a teacher can receive has increased every year. It was originally in the budget that former Gov. McCrory signed the year before he became the first sitting governor in NC history to not get reelected when he/she sought to, a provision adding bonus pay for teachers of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, CTE, and 3rd grade.

Now it includes the Cambridge curriculum.

bonus

In the past, I would have received more money in bonuses if there was no cap. But unlike class sizes, you have capped the bonuses. That’s some irony there.

But, as I said, I will not keep the bonus, again. Part of it will be taxed. The state will get some of it back. The feds will get some of it. Some of what the feds will get may be paying for Medicaid in other states, which is ironic because we didn’t expand it here in NC. None of it will go to my retirement plan.

The rest I will give back to my school and other outlets that support special needs students. And don’t think I do not need the money. I do – still have two kids, car payment, mortgage, therapy for a special needs child, etc.

But I can’t make it this way again, especially when I know why the bonus is given and the fact that it doesn’t really belong to me because so many more people at my school helped my students pass my particular AP test, one that does not even have any influence on their transcript.

I know that there are other teachers I know well who will receive bonuses for their students passing AP tests. If they keep that money, that’s their business. They need the money. They have families and needs. I will not in any way ask them what they will do with it and I will not ask them to agree with what I say in this open letter.

There are many reasons for my opinion, and all are rooted in principles and respect, but I will attempt to explain them clearly and concisely.

  1. I do not need a carrot stick. If getting a bonus to get students to perform better really works, then this should have been done a long time ago. But it does not. I do not perform better because of a bonus. I am not selling anything. I would like my students and parents to think that I work just as hard for all of my students in all of my classes because I am a teacher.
  2. This creates an atmosphere of competition. I did not get into teaching so that I could compete with my fellow teachers and see who makes more money, but rather collaborate with them. Giving some teachers a chance to make bonuses and not others is a dangerous precedent.
  3. I did not take those tests. The students took the tests. Sometimes I wish that I could take the tests for them, but if you are paying me more money to have students become more motivated, then that is just misplaced priorities. These students are young adults. Some vote; most drive; many have jobs; many pay taxes. They need to be able to harness their own motivation and hopefully I can couple it with my motivation.
    But many of these students are taking eight classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and helping families. Plus with all of the testing that we put on students that takes away from actual instructional time is staggering. Sometimes, I am amazed at what our students actually accomplish in light of the gravity they are placed under.
  4. I was not the only person who taught them. To say that the success of my students on the AP English Language and Composition Test solely rested on my performance is ludicrous. While the cliché’ “It takes a village” might be overused, I do believe that the entire school’sfaculty and staff has something to do with not only my students’ success, but my own. The content, study skills, time management, discipline that students must exercise to pass the AP test certainly did not all come from me. Everyone on staff, every coach, every PTSA volunteer has helped to remove obstacles for students so they could achieve.
  5. Bonus pay does not work. It’s like merit pay. There is really no evidence that it helps public schools. Remember the ABC’s from the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s? Yep, I do too.
  6. The state does not have a reputation of fully funding their initiatives. Again, remember the ABC’s? I still do. Those bonuses dried up because they were not fully funded. And after the bonuses are taken away in the future (which they probably will), will the expectations of student performance be lessened? History says that it will not.
  7. My class is not more important as others. They all matter. I wrote Rep. Stam once concerning his views on merit pay and what subjects were more important than others,

“If some subjects matter more than others, then why do schools weigh all classes the same on a transcript? If some subjects matter more than others, then why do we teach all of those subjects? I certainly feel that as an English teacher, the need to teach reading and writing skills is imperative to success in any endeavor that a student wishes to pursue after graduation. In fact, what teachers in any subject area are trained to do is to not just impart knowledge, but treat every student as an individual with unique learning styles, abilities, and aptitudes in a manner that lets each student grow as a person, one who can create and make his/her own choices. “

  1. This sets a dangerous precedent in measuring students and teachers. As I stated in my aforementioned letter to Rep. Stam,

“Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick. Furthermore, the GOP-led NCGA still does not seem to acknowledge that student growth is different than student test scores. When some of our colleagues deal with students who experience more poverty, health issues, and other factors, then how can you say that those teachers do not “grow” those students when an arbitrary test score is all that is used to measure students?”

  1. This is a reward, but far from showing respect. Many teachers got a raise in the past four years, but again that is an “average” raise. Bonuses in this case seem more like “hush money” and a means to brag that you seem to care about teacher compensation. But if you really respected teachers, you would do more for them than give “bonuses” to a few of them. You would reward them with salaries comparable with the rest of the nation. You would restore due-process rights for new teachers, you would give back graduate degree pay, you would stop measuring schools with a defeatist model, and you would restore longevity pay.
  2. It’s pure electioneering. There is uncontrolled charter school growth. There are loosened sanctions on for-profit virtual schools. There are massive amount of money going to Opportunity Grants which will no doubt fill the coffers of schools that do not even teach the same curriculum as those teachers you want to “reward” with these bonuses. There is HB2, lawsuits between our puppet state superintendent and the state school board you appointed, and an ASD district still out there. There is the lowered per pupil expenditure. All of this affects the very schools that you think a bonus will help to hide.

These bonuses are not part of the solution. They are a symptom of a bigger problem. And while I will defend each person who receives this bonus his/her right to keep it and spend it any way he/she chooses, I plan to give mine to my school and other outlets, a few of the many that you have not fully resourced.

Dear NCGA, We Have Great Teacher Programs in Our Colleges and Universities

Senate Bill 599, misnamed the “Excellent Teachers In Every Classroom” bill, passed through the last days of the recent legislative session of the NC General Assembly in 2017.

A hack of a bill, it was sponsored primarily by Senator Chad Barefoot, as a means of addressing the teacher shortage in North Carolina’s public schools with teacher preparation programs that are run by for-profit entities that “train” teachers in short amounts of time to serve our state’s students.

While there do exist many talented people who enter the teaching profession laterally, those people do get training through a program already that allows them to take classes and be mentored as they “enter” the profession.

However, SB599 seems more like paving a road for private business to enter North Carolina to profit from tax payer money while continuing to “de-professionalize” the very profession that is the glue of public education in this state – the public school teacher.

The same say that this bill went through a final vote, the new state superintendent was in his first day of court battling the state board of education over how much the general assembly can control who runs the public school system in North Carolina.

The irony in this is not lost on anyone. In fact, it might be the most that some of us teachers have seen our state “leader” at one time doing what he does best: having someone speak for him about what he should be able to do.

But back to SB599.

One of the interesting items that surrounded the SB599 bill involved the Texas Teachers of Tomorrow. As reported by Alex Granados today on EdNC.org,

Texas Teachers of Tomorrow is an alternative, online teacher preparation organization that gave a $5,000 donation to the bill’s only sponsor Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, in the month prior to the start of the 2017 long session of the General Assembly. Barefoot said he did not solicit the contribution and has never heard of the person who gave it to him on behalf of the organization. 

E-mails between Barefoot and a representative of the organization show that Teachers of Tomorrow wanted concessions in the bill that would allow them to come into the state sooner than the bill allowed. Barefoot refused. 

But after the bill passed the Senate and went to the House, a House committee added a pilot program to the bill that could have allowed Teachers of Tomorrow to enter the state sooner, as it wanted. Barefoot said publicly he did not support that provision (https://www.ednc.org/2017/06/30/teachers-tomorrow-will-wait/).  

Ethical questions aside (and there are many), it is rather interesting that the words “Teachers of Tomorrow” be engaged with “Excellent Teachers in Every Classroom” for a short period of time all the while our “leader” of the Department of Public Instruction was in court having someone fight on his behalf to give him power so that someone else may abuse.

But we already have excellent teachers in classrooms and we already have ways of bringing teachers of tomorrow into the fold today with proven teacher preparation programs that our taxes have already helped to pay for or people have already become willing to pay for themselves. It would be nice if the NCGA would invest more in those already existing programs.

In fact, you can find that information on DPI’s website: http://www.ncpublicschools.org/ihe/approved/.

There are over 40 of them in our state alone.

Here’s a map.

IHE

All of them have schools of education and even offer multiple degrees in areas in education.

IHE2

And in case Sen. Barefoot or Rep. Elmore doesn’t remember these programs, then here’s a list they can call.

Appalachian State University

http://www.ced.appstate.edu/

Interim Dean of Education: Dr. Melba Spooner

Reich College of Education: 828-262-2232 Licensure Officer: Dr. David A. Wiley

Licensure Phone: 828-262-6107

 

Barton College

http://www.barton.edu/education/

Dean of Education: Dr. Jackie Ennis

Associate Dean of Education: Dr. Ann Carper

School of Education: 252-399-6431

Licensure Officer: Dr. Jackie Ennis

Licensure Phone: 252-399-6434

 

Belmont Abbey College

http://www.bac.edu/academics/index.aspx

Chair Department of Education: Dr. Sara Davis Powell

School of Education: 704-461-5059

Licensure Officer: Benette Sutton

Licensure Phone: 704-461-6830

 

Bennett College

http://www.bennett.edu/

Dean of Education: Dr. Steve Willis

Chair, Teacher Education Program: Dr. Henry Johnson

Licensure Officer: Dr. Henry Johnson

Licensure Phone: 336-517-2178

 

Brevard College http://www.brevard.edu/academics/education

Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Betsy Burrows

School of Education: 828-884-8351

Licensure Officer: Dr. Betsy Burrows

Licensure Phone: 828-884-8351

 

Campbell University http://www.campbell.edu/education/

Dean of Education: Dr. Karen P. Nery Associate Dean: Dr. Sam Engel

Director Teacher Education: Dr. Chris Godwin

School of Education: 910-893-1631

Licensure Officer: Ms. Charity Tart

Licensure Phone: 910-893-1631

 

Catawba College http://www.catawba.edu/academic/teachereducation/

Dean of Education: Dr. James K. Stringfield

Chair of Dept. of Teacher Education: Dr. Rhonda L. Truitt Goodman School of Education: 704-637-4461

Licensure Officer: Dr. James K. Stringfield Licensure Phone: 704-637-4337

 

Chowan University

http://www.chowan.edu/academics/school-education.htm

Dean of School of Education: Dr. Ella Benson

School of Education: 252-398-6377

Licensure Officer: Dr. Ella Benson

Licensure Phone: 252-398-6304

 

Duke University

http://academics.duke.edu/

Dean of Education: Dr. Susan R. Wynn

School of Education: 919-660-3075 Licensure Officer: Dr. Kristen Stephens Licensure Phone: 919-660-3083

 

East Carolina University

http://www.coe.ecu.edu

Dean of Education: Dr. Grant Hayes

Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Vivian Martin Covington College of Education: 252-328-4260

Licensure Officer: Dr. Vivian Martin Covington Licensure Phone: 252-328-2278

 

Elizabeth City State University http://www.ecsu.edu/academics/educationpsychology/index.cfm

Chair Educ., Psych. & Health Dept.: Dr. Gwendolyn Williams

Department of Education, Psychology & Health: 252-335-3297

Licensure Officer: Dr. Sheila Williams

Licensure Phone: 252-335-3295

 

Elon University

http://www.elon.edu/e-web/academics/education/

Dean of Education: Dr. V. Ann Bullock

Associate Dean: Dr. Ayesha Delpish

School of Education: 336-278-5900

Licensure Officer: Dr. Ann Bullock

Licensure Phone: 336-278-5859

 

Fayetteville State University

http://www.uncfsu.edu/soe/

Dean of Education: Dr. Marion Gillis-Olion School of Education: 910-672-1265

Licensure Officer: Jenny Washington

Licensure Phone: 910-672-1587

 

Gardner-Webb University

http://www.gardner-webb.edu/academics/academic- programs/undergraduate-programs/schools/school-of- education/index.html

Dean of Education: Dr. Doug Eury

School of Education: 704-406-4406

Licensure Officer: Seth Oprea

Licensure Phone: 704-406-4406

 

Greensboro College

http://www.greensboro.edu/teacher-education.php

Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Rebecca Blomgren

Asst. Director of Teacher Education: Pamela Bennett

School of Education: 336-217-7264

Licensure Officer: Dr. Rebecca Blomgren Licensure Phone: 336-272-7102 ext. 262

 

Guilford College http://www.guilford.edu/academics/ Dean of Education: Dr. Julie Burke

School of Education Phone: 336-316-2363 Licensure Officer: Deedee Pearman Licensure Phone: 336-316-2270

 

High Point University http://highpoint.nc.schoolwebpages.com/education/components/scrapbook/default.php?sectionid=1

Dean of Education: Dr. Mariann Tillery Associate Dean: Dr. Barbara Leonard School of Education: 336-841-9188 Licensure Officer: Dr. Barbara Leonard Licensure Phone: 336-841-9285

 

Lees-McRae College http://www.lmc.edu/academics/programof study/education/index.htm.

Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Pamela Vesely School of Education: 828-898-3382

Licensure Officer: Dr. Pamela Vesely

Licensure Phone: 828-898-3382

 

Lenoir-Rhyne University

http://www.edu.lr.edu

Dean of Education: Dr. Hank Weddington

School of Education Chair: Dr. Kim Matthews School of Education: 828-328-756

Licensure Officer: Dr. Hank Weddington Licensure Phone: 828-328-7565

 

Livingstone College

http://www.livingstone.edu/academics/division-of-education-and-social-work

Dean of Education: Dr. Alexander Erwin

School of Education: 704-216-6899 Licensure Officer: Dr. Alexander Erwin Licensure Phone: 704-216-6899

 

Mars Hill University http://www.mhu.edu/academics Chair Education: Dr. Susan Stigall

Department of Education: 828-689-1177 Licensure Officer: Dr. Chris Cain Licensure Phone: 828-689-1495

 

Meredith College

http://www.meredith.edu/academics/

Chair Department of Education: Dr. Mary Kay Delaney School of Education: 919-760-8315

Licensure Officer: Dr. Mary Kay Delaney Licensure Phone: 919-760-8315

 

Methodist University http://www.methodist.edu/academics/index.htm

Dean of Education: Dr. Tat Chan

Department Chair: Dr. Jennifer Broom

Dept. of Education: Phone: 910-630-7057

Licensure Officer: Patricia Fecher

Licensure Phone: 910-630-7374

 

Mid-Atlantic Christian University http://www.macuniversity.edu/academics/department-of-marketplace-ministry/teacher-education Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Cheryl Luton School of Education: 252-334-2054

Licensure Officer: Dr. Cheryl Luton

Licensure Phone: 252-334-2054

 

Montreat College

http://www.montreat.edu/

Dir. of Teacher Ed.: Dr. Linda Neuzil Associate Dean: Dr. Constance Nihart

School of Education: 800-669-8012, x3672

 

Mount Olive University

http://www.moc.edu

Chair of Division of Arts & Education: Dr. Tommy Benson

School of Education919-658-7699

Licensure Officer: Dr. Ruby Bell

Licensure Phone: 919-299-4813

 

North Carolina A&T State University

http://www.ncat.edu/academics/schools-colleges1/soe/teacher-education/index.html

Interim Dean School of Education: Dr. Anthony Graham

Associate Dean: Dr. Loury O. Floyd

School of Education: 336-334-7757 Licensure Officer: Dr. Loury O. Floyd Licensure Phone: 336-334-7757

 

North Carolina Central University

http://www.nccu.edu/soe

Dean of Education: Dr. Audrey W. Beard

Assessment & Program Quality Specialist: Dr. C.E. Davis

School of Education: 919-530-6466

Licensure Officer: Dr. Audrey W. Beard Licensure Phone: 919-530-6417

 

North Carolina State University

http://ced.ncsu.edu/

Dean of Education: Dr. Mary Ann Danowitz

Associate Dean: Dr. Michael Maher

College of Education: 919-515-2011 Licensure Officer: Dr. Michael Maher Licensure Phone: 919-515-7160

 

North Carolina Wesleyan College

http://www.ncwc.edu/academics/

Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Danielle Madrazo

School of Education: 252-985-5163

Licensure Officer: Dr. Danielle Madrazo Licensure Phone: 252-985-5165

 

Pfeiffer University

http://www.pfeiffer.edu

Dean of Education: Dr. Dawn Lucas

Division of Education: 704-463-3151 Licensure Officer: Dr. Ann Crutchfield Licensure Phone: 704-463-3152

 

Queens University of Charlotte

http://www.queens.edu/Academics-and-Schools-and-Colleges/cato-school-of-education.html

Dean Cato School of Education: Dr. John Sisko

Associate Dean: Dr. Amy W. Thornburg

School of Education: 704-337-2580

Licensure Off.: Cynthia Crenshaw Licensure Phone: 704-337-2580

 

Saint Andrews University http://www.sapc.edu/academics/academ.php Dean of Education:

Dept. of Ed. Faculty: Dr. Teresa Reynolds

Phone: 910-277-5667

School of Education: 910-277-5340

Licensure Phone: 910-277-5340

 

Saint Augustine’s University http://www.st-aug.edu/academics-185.html

Dean of Education: Dr. Lynne Jefferson

School of Liberal Arts & Education

Chair Department of Education: Dr. Darnell Bethel

School of Education: 919-516-5158

Licensure Phone: 919-516-5158

 

Salem College

http://www.salem.edu/graduate

Director of Teacher Education: Dr. Sheryl Long School of Education: 336-721-2774

Licensure Officer: Dr. Sheryl Long

Licensure Phone: 336-721-2658

 

Shaw University

http://www.shawu.edu

Chair of Dept. of Education: Dr. Paula Moten-Tolson School of Education: 919-546-8530

Licensure Officer: Dr. Paula Moten-Tolson

Licensure Phone: 919-546-8544

 

University of Mount Olive

https://www.umo.edu/

Chair of Division of Arts & Education: Dr. Tommy Benson School of Education: 919-658-7699

Licensure Officer: Dr. Ruby Bell Licensure Phone: 919-299-4813

 

University of North Carolina at Asheville

http://education.unca.edu/

Chair of Education: Dr. Kim Brown School of Education: 828-251-6420

Licensure Phone: 828-258-7730

 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

http://www.soe.unc.edu

Dean Educ.: Dr. Fouad Abd-El-Khalick Assistant Dean: Dr. Diana Lys

School of Education: 919-966-1436

Licensure Officer: Debbie Andrews Licensure Phone: 919-537-3962

 

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

http://education.uncc.edu/

Dean of Education: Dr. Ellen McIntyre

College of Education: 704-687-8722

Licensure Officer: Kevin Parsons

Licensure Phone: 704-687-8811

 

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

http://www.uncg.edu/soe

Dean of Education: Dr. Randall Penfield

Associate Dean: Dr. Jewell Cooper

School of Education: 336-334-3944

Licensure Officer: Dr. Jacqueline Dozier

Licensure Phone: 336-334-3923

 

University of North Carolina at Pembroke

http://uncp.edu/soe/

Interim Dean of Education: Dr. Alfred Bryant, Jr.

School of Education: 910-521-6539

Licensure Officer: Nuekie Aku Opata

Licensure Phone: 910-521-6879

 

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

http://www.uncw.edu/ed/

Dean of Education: Dr. Van O. Dempsey, III

Associate Dean: Dr. Ann Potts

Watson College of Education: 910-962-3354

Licensure Officer: Ms. Logan Sidbury

Licensure Phone: 910-962-2796

 

Wake Forest University

http://college.wfu.edu/education

Chair of Dept. of Education: Dr. Adam Friedman

Department of Education: 336-758-5341

Licensure Officer: Tracy Stegman

Licensure Phone: 336-758-5990

 

Western Carolina University

https://ceap.wcu.edu/

Dean of Education: Dr. Dale Carpenter

Associate Dean Academic Affairs: Dr. Kim Winter

School of Education: 828-227-7311

Licensure Officer: Dr. Kim Winter

Licensure Phone: 828-227-2000

 

William Peace University

http://www.peace.edu/content/page/id/392

Chair of Department of Education: Dr. Jennifer Russell

School of Education: 919-508-2291

Licensure Phone: 919-508-2291

 

Wingate University

https://www.wingate.edu/majors-programs/education

Dean of Education: Dr. Sarah Harrison-Burns

School of Education: 704-233-8127

Licensure Officer: Dr. Sarah Harrison-Burns

Licensure Phone: 704-233-8128

 

Winston-Salem State University

http://www.wssu.edu/casbe/academics/faculties/fe.aspx

The College of Arts, Science, Business & Education (CASBE) Dean of CASBE: Dr. Corey D.B. Walker

Faculty of Education: 336-750-2370

Licensure Officer: Ms. Jamilla Shepper

Using Our Students As Political Pawns (HB90) – Remember This Happened When Voting in November

chess

News this past February that a “fix” for the class size mandate was “agreed” upon by both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly should seem like a welcome outcome.

On the surface, it was a victory for parents, advocates, and schools in that the mandate will be pushed back for a while and some extra funding for “specials” teachers is being given.

But during that press-conference in which Sen. Chad Barefoot announced with carefully prepared and partisan comments the “fix,” he negated to tell North Carolinians what else was attached to the bill that NC democrats were never privy to (http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article199207129.html).

That link not only gives you a video of Barefoot’s press conference; it also links to Lynn Bonner’s report that further explores HB90’s reach.

Long-sought help for schools struggling to lower class sizes is now tied up with a controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline fund and a power struggle over control of elections boards.

A bill proposed Thursday would take $58 million that energy companies building a pipeline through Eastern North Carolina are expected to give state government as part of a deal Gov. Roy Cooper negotiated, and distribute it to school districts in eight counties the pipeline would run through. Cooper calls it a mitigation fund to offset environmental effects of the pipeline, but Republicans repeatedly called it a “slush fund.”

House Bill 90 also makes changes to the state elections board. The changes are the response to Republicans’ recent loss in the state Supreme Court in a ruling that said their earlier attempt to reconstitute the board was unconstitutional. In the latest iteration, the elections board would have nine members, including one member not affiliated with a political party.

But to Barefoot and other GOP members of the NCGA, the day was really about bragging about a class-size fix.

Throughout most of the last calendar year people like Barefoot, Berger, and Moore have been yelling that the class size mandate has been funded in the past, yet there was absolutely no proof of that. One only has to read the work of Kris Nordstrom and see that those claims were not only baseless, but now are revealed to be the very smokescreen for today’s announcement.

What happened was that the GOP education reformers took credit for a solution to a problem that they purposefully used to position themselves to pass partisan legislature to help them remain in power despite the gerrymandering and doublespeak.

And yes, it is politics. But public school kids were the pawns. They made it look like they were listening to the public, but it seems more than orchestrated.

Think of Craig Horn’s statements earlier in the year that a “fix” was coming only to be rebuffed by Berger. That is until more came out about the ruling of the state supreme court on the state elections board. They needed that time to figure out how to allow a fix that they have been holding in their back pocket to a problem they originally created could be used to offset their political loss.

And again, the kids were the pawns.

They have been all along.

Gov. Cooper’s office did respond with a press release and it was correct.

cooper

But the statements that came to mind were from Mark Johnson’s “less than stellar” op-ed from a February issue of News & Observer (http://amp.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article198795214.html?__twitter_impression=true).

And some of those tasked with making schools better are more focused on preserving tired partisan wedges….

Nothing was more partisan than what the people who empower and enable Johnson  (who never has really said anything about the class size mandate) did that February day.

And it also shows us why we need to vote so many people out of office come November.

Our Schools Should be About Collaboration Among Teachers, Not Competition

“Collaborate” :intransitive verb. Noun form is “collaboration” – 1:to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor 

Simply put, collaboration as described in that first definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website is the best resource/tool that a school can have and that leaders can encourage.

What makes schools work best are the relationships between the people: administration, teachers, students, parents, and community. No set of standards, no checklist, no standardized test, and no evaluation criteria can ever really measure the importance of people using other people as their best resources to create a collaborative learning environment where students can achieve optimally.

In a “reform – minded” culture that promotes business models for education and screams for “competition” on an uneven playing field, the very entity that really gets eroded is the ability for professional educators to “work jointly with others or together.” Initiatives like merit pay, bonuses for test scores, removal of class size caps, and elimination of due-process rights creates a culture of insular competition.

Public education is not a partisan issue. The state constitution specifically ensures that each student is entitled to a quality public education. It is a public good and a public service. The key word there is “public” and not “private.”

The picture below from WRAL.com shows the meeting room of the State Board of Education.

SBOE

In rather ornate fashion the state constitution is quoted on the wall. It says, “THE PEOPLE HAVE A RIGHT TO THE PRIVILEGE OF EDUCTION AND IT IS THE DUTY OF THE STATE TO GUARD AND MAINTAIN THAT RIGHT.”

The two people sitting right below that quote are Bill Cobey, Chairman of the Board, and Mark Johnson, the State Superintendent.

To say that those two are not collaborating is putting it mildly. And it’s the fault of one of those two more so than the other. Mr. Johnson knows who he is.

For months, the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent were in court – facing each other in competition. Melissa Broughton’s report in NC Policy Watch last September highlighted the inability for the very people who control schools to actually collaborate amongst themselves. From Broughton:

“The three-judge panel that ruled in favor of Johnson in a lawsuit over a transfer of power from the Board will hear a motion for a temporary stay pending the Board’s appeal. According to the motion, counsel for both parties spent six weeks trying to come to an agreement for a temporary stay but were unsuccessful”(http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2017/09/11/nc-board-education-superintendent-mark-johnson-return-court-later-week/#sthash.D186QZe3.dpbs).

That same piece also included a rather telling graphic.

PUBLIC-EDUCATION-300x251

It suggests that the stability of our state’s capacity to offer a quality free public education rests on the willingness of the “legs” to collaboratively work together. However, that is not happening. They are too much in competition.

Most people who follow education in North Carolina know that when Mark Johnson was elected state superintendent, he was almost immediately granted excessive legislative powers to run the public schools by the NC General Assembly in a power grab. That is what precipitated the lawsuit that is still ongoing and the current “stay” of the latest court decision. What the NCGA granted Johnson was power that was not thought to be in the hands of a state superintendent when people elected Johnson.

Broughton further reported,

Without a temporary stay pending the Board’s appeal, the law in question that transfers power from the Board to Johnson will move the entire $10 billion public school system under the control of a single individual for the first time in North Carolina history, the motion states.

We know how that court case ended. That transfer of power changed that three-legged dynamic in the graphic above seismically.

Two legs grew longer and one would shrank. And the seat that represents our “quality free public education” is not balanced. Whoever sits on it would fall over.

The checks and balances that help make sure that access to a quality free public education exists for all students relies on the checks and balances of the three entities that help shape educational matters. But rather than collaborate, there has been collusion and competition, especially from Johnson and the NCGA.

And our schools have suffered from it.

It seems that people like Berger, Moore, Barefoot, and other GOP stalwarts as well as Johnson could take a lesson from our teachers in public schools who see collaboration as the key to success in schools.

Of course there are other definitions of “collaboration.” The second one on the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website states,

2:to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy 

Maybe that’s the collaboration that Johnson and the NCGA are thinking about.

Public School Teachers: 10-Month Employees, But 12-Month Educators

Many times over this summer, I have heard from many well-intentioned people that it must be nice to have a job that allows one to only work 10 months out of a year.

Write a blog or some op-eds about conditions of the teaching profession and the state of public schools in North Carolina and one of the first counterarguments you will receive is that you only have to “work 10 months a year, but get paid for twelve. “

Yes, we might be what is termed “ten-month” employees, but we are 12 month educators. And to set the record straight, teachers are paid for ten months, some just spread it out over twelve month increments.

One of the obviously overlooked aspects of the 10-month calendar is that it is a system that society has created, not teachers. If you want teachers to teach 12 months, then open schools for twelve months. Change the law about the number of days students have to be in school. Be willing to invest more tax money into keeping schools fully operational for that time.

There’s bus transportation, food, extracurriculars, etc. that must be resourced. If someone wants schools to be teaching students twelve months a year, then finance it.

One would also have to convince the tourism industry that having a vast majority of students go to school during prime travel and vacation months will have no bearing on the economy. The calendar as it stands today for traditional public schools is somewhat driven by the tourism industry.

What about those “year-round” schools? Well, they go the same number of days as traditional schools, but it’s just spread out over the entire year. Same with those teachers.

But to think that when school is not in “session,” teachers do not do anything professionally speaking is ludicrous. What many mistake is that that “eight weeks of vacation” is actually unemployment. Teachers have 10-month contracts. What one may call “vacation” is actually unpaid time that is spent getting renewed certification, professional development, or advanced degrees—all of which are paid with teachers’ own money that gets taxed by the state. Until recently, the only way teachers could get a pay increase is to fund their own advanced education. But even that is no longer the case because of a crusade led the current NCGA to eliminate advanced-degree pay increases.

And don’t even begin to quantify what coaches in any sport are doing as far as camps, workouts, summer leagues, and fundraising to get teams ready for the next year. And most every coach at any given high school is also a full-time teacher.

Summers are also a time for credit recovery for students among other administrative duties. Just in the first week of “summer vacation” at my own school:

  • Offices were open to conduct business.
  • Student Services was open for registration and transcript analysis.
  • Teachers were on campus conducting various tasks.
  • The yearbook staff is already at camp in Chapel Hill working on next year’s edition.
  • Rooms were being cleared and cleaned.
  • The baseball coach was conducting a baseball camp for community youth. He also coached over the weekend at the state games helping local talent get more attention from college programs as that might be a key way for some of them to go to college.
  • The soccer coaches also had their camps going teaching community youth skills. Some of the current and past players for a state championship team were on hand to help out.
  • State sanctioned workouts were happening on other fields.
  • Summer school classes were about to begin to help students regain credits.
  • Some teachers were already back from grading AP tests.
  • Some teachers were in professional development classes in various places.
  • Some teachers were prepping for new courses they are to teach because populations change and numbers of sections change.
  • Some teachers were preparing for National Boards.
  • Some teachers were moving materials on campus to facilitate summer cleaning and maintenance.
  • Some teachers were helping interview potential new teachers and then helping those hired get more acclimated with the campus.
  • Some teachers were taking inventory.
  • Some teachers just came to campus to get work done to prepare for next year like send items to print shop or get websites and databases ready.

That school is still doing other things related to education the other seven weeks, as are many of the teachers whether they are on campus or not.

months

Yes, we might be 10-month “employees.”

But we are 12-month educators.

Why The Cost Of Living Adjustment Argument is Erroneous When Discussing Teacher Salary

On August 11th, The Civitas Institute released a report by Leah Byers entitled “The Problem with Average in Teacher Pay” (https://www.nccivitas.org/2018/problem-average-teacher-pay/).

It starts,

Education funding has been a heated topic in North Carolina again this year. Progressives and others on the Left say the state is underfunding schools and teachers. These claims come despite years of spending increases and teacher pay raises. When asked to provide specifics about what constitutes a proper level of funding, advocates are conspicuously hesitant to offer a number or range that they believe would be adequate.

This is especially true with regard to teacher salaries. Instead of setting a specific goal, progressives prefer to tie North Carolina teacher pay to the ever elusive “national average.”  According to the National Education Association (NEA), the national average for 2016-2017 was $59,660. The NEA also reports average teacher pay by state; North Carolina ranked thirty-ninth that year with an average teacher salary of $49,970.

Perhaps the biggest and most obvious flaw with using the national average as a benchmark is that it fails to reflect differences in the cost of living. It costs more to live in Manhattan than in Manteo. Salaries reflect those differences. Comparing salaries across states is inherently biased towards places with higher costs of living. Adjusting for these considerations alone improves North Carolina’s rank to 29th, according to the John Locke Foundation.

Of course the Civitas Institute would trumpet the John Locke Foundation. They are literally the same.

That part when she says, “When asked to provide specifics about what constitutes a proper level of funding, advocates are conspicuously hesitant to offer a number or range that they believe would be adequate,” is actually humorous.

But it’s the reliance on the “cost-of-living” argument where she falls short. She makes a link to a post by Dr. Terry Stoops of the John Locke Foundation from back in the spring when the NEA released it’s annual report on education.

Back in April, John Hood of the John Locke Foundation tweeted the following in response to the NEA’s report on teacher pay that had North Carolina still well below the national average.

hood1

Interestingly, he tagged it to #nced and referred all readers to a recent post by his colleague Dr. Terry Stoops (the one Myers references), the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies for the John Locke Foundation. He must have wanted a lot of people to read this.

The John Locke Foundation is a libertarian-leaning think tank whose findings and studies on North Carolina’s public schools are so bent toward a political ideology that celebrates “school choice” and vouchers that it tends to spin data and research so much that it hopes readers will not take the time to actually look into the data themselves.

Stoops wrote in that April 2018 post,

Earlier today, the National Education Association (NEA) released their annual Rankings and Estimates report.  According to the report, North Carolina’s average teacher salary for 2018 ranked 39th out of the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

But the NEA ranking does not adjust for cost of living.  When C2ER cost-of-living indices for 2017 are applied, North Carolina’s rank jumps to 29th in the nation.  Last year, North Carolina’s cost-of-living adjusted average salary was 33rd in the nation(https://lockerroom.johnlocke.org/2018/04/23/adjusted-teacher-pay-rank-29th-in-the-nation/).

Stoops then presents a table that uses the C2ER index for each state.

table1

And if one took Stoops’s interpretation at face value, then he is exactly right.

The Cost of Living Index used by Stoops is represented in the map below that the C2ER uses (https://www.missourieconomy.org/indicators/cost_of_living/).

map

But Stoops simplifies it too much. Even C2ER says so.

C2ER stands for the Council for Community and Economic Research and it even warns against using the cost of living index in such a broad stroke as Stoops has done. Within its 2017 Cost of Living Index, it states,

“For 23 years, participation in the Cost of Living
Index was open to all places, regardless of size.
In the late 1980s, however, several rural places
with very small populations began
participating, and it became apparent that
adherence to the specifications in many such
places wasn’t possible. There’s no doubt that
small rural places offer an alternative to an
urban professional or managerial standard of
living that many people find attractive, but such
places are qualitatively different from urban
areas, and they simply don’t support the kind of
urban lifestyle embodied in the Cost of Living
Index.

The Committee has concluded that
participation in the Index should be restricted to
areas that can reasonably be considered urban
and patterned its restrictions after the federal
government’s distinction between urban and
rural areas.”

You can read that document here: http://coli.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-COLI-Manual.pdf. The above is on page 4. In fact, the the C2ER site actually prefers that the index be used when comparing cities to cities – not state to state.

C2ER

The very warning that C2ER gives in using its COL Index is deliberately ignored by Stoops in order that he keep on his shallow narrative that teacher pay in North Carolina is not all that bad.

Take this a little deeper and one can see that another factor Stoops conveniently ignores is that average teacher pay in North Carolina varies LEA to LEA. Local supplements that are given to teachers in some counties are much better than in other localities because those places can afford to do that. That creates a wider disparity in salaries for teachers within the state.

Metropolitan LEA’s like Wake County can give a bigger salary boost to teachers than many of the rural counties, some of whom cannot give a local supplement at all. And Stoops as well as Hood should know that rural counties suffer more when it comes to staffing schools.

This simplification of the data is not an oversight. It’s part of a plan – a deliberate attempt to sway the narrative to favor those who see simply investing in the public school system at a reasonable rate a burden.

So when Hood says in his tweet, “Even if you disagree, here’s where we really are,” it seems that he doesn’t really know where we are.

#NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments – Taking Mark Johnson’s #NCReads Tips to Understand the Wording of the Constitutional Amendments

Every week, State Supt. Mark Johnson releases an “NC Reads Reading Tip” on his Twitter account to give suggestions to parents and guardians about how to help foster and greater love of reading at home.

ncreads1.jpg

Considering those who have propped up Johnson as the state’s leader of the public school system also intentionally wrote the text for the constitutional amendments to be confusing and opaque, maybe using some of the NC Read Reading Tips to try and understand these six amendments would be helpful.

It could show whether the tips are helpful and/or show the clarity that is not present in the NCGA’s wording of the power grabbing amendments they hope to confuse voters with.

Below are some suggestions of how to use those reading tips solely for the understanding of the constitutional amendments.

1.Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Traveling for #FourthOfJuly celebrations? Try to spend some time reading with your child to pass time. If you are driving, play audio-books that your child picks out or encourage them to read on their own. #NCReads

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Traveling for late summer vacations? Try to spend some time reading with your family those newly worded amendments to see if you can make sense of them. If you are driving, have someone else read those newly worded amendments and determine if they sound just as convoluted from someone else’s mouth as they do from yours. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

2. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “If you’re excited about a book or article that you’ve recently read, talk to your child about it! Your enthusiasm will show your child just how fun reading can be.”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: If you’re exhausted about having to decipher those new amendments you’ve recently read, talk to others about it! Your frustration will show your friends just how stupidly worded those new amendments really are! #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

3. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip:“After finishing a story, have your child repeat the big events of the story in chronological order. Incorporate #drawing to make it even more engaging! “

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: After finishing reading the new amendments as worded by the special session, try to explain what the amendments really said. Incorporate #handjestures to make it even more frustrating! #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

4. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Give your child books with predictable vocabulary and clear rhythmic patterns. This way they can “hear” the sound of fluent reading as they read the book aloud. #AudioBooks are great for them to follow along with as well.”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Pray that these amendments could actually have more predictable vocabulary and rhythmic patterns and that they actually get to be written in a comprehensible manner. This way people can “hear” just how ludicrous these power grabbing measures are. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

5. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Have your child examine the cover of a book before starting it. Ask questions such as: “What might the book be about?” Making predictions and building connections between stories will help your child better comprehend what they read.”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Have your friends examine a sample before starting to read it. Ask questions such as: “Do you think you will maintain consciousness after reading the wording of those new amendments?” Making bets about who may be most frustrated might help make the time more worthwhile. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

6. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Before children can identify letter sounds in words or reading, they can learn how spoken language can be broken down into smaller pieces. Help children learn to break sentences down into words, then words into syllables.”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Before people can identify exactly what the amendments say with the wording of the special session, they can try and break down the text into smaller pieces. Help them learn that no matter how you slice these amendments, they still are horrible. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

7. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Reading just 20 minutes a day with your child will help them read on grade level. Be sure to ask questions about what they read. Talking about the words in the book will help them understand what they are reading even more. #NCEd#NCReads

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Reading these amendments just 20 minutes a day with friends will not make them any less confusing. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

8. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Let your children pick articles about their interests for you to read & discuss together. If your child has a tablet or video-game console, research apps & games that revolve around improving literacy skills & problem solving. #NCReads#Engagement

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Let your friends pick news reports and opinion pieces about the amendments for everyone to read and discuss. Then you will see how badly worded they are. Then grab the nearest electronic device to divert your attention spans as the people who called the special session do not want you to actually pay attention to what is really going on. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

9. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Bring along a book or a magazine any time your child has to wait for something. Whether it be at the doctor or in the cart at the grocery store, it is always helpful to fit in reading practice!”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Bring along a pillow any time you and your friends have to wait for something. You can have something to scream into if you pass that time reading the texts of those new amendments. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

10. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Early readers can practice retelling a story after reading by drawing pictures of the beginning, middle and end of the story. As they continue to grow as a reader, they can label the pictures and write their own summaries for each.”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Early readers can practice retelling a story after reading by drawing pictures. Try that with the newly worded amendments and see if anyone can make sense of what you drew. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

11. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Try to make reading with your child a regularly scheduled event (ie: every night before bed). By doing this, you are improving their literacy skills and also getting them used to being a routine, active reader.”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Try to make reading the newly worded amendments every night before going to bed. You will pass out quickly and have dreams in which you are always the confused protagonist. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

12. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “Read a story over and over to your child, even if it feels like the 100th time! As you read, pause and ask your child about what is going on in the book. Be sure to ask about pictures too. You are helping your child build comprehension!”

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: Read those newly worded amendments over and over to yourself, even if it feels like the 100th time! Notice how they still don’t make sense. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

13. Actual NC Reads Reading Tip: “When reading at home, try to do so in a place where your children can see you reading, like a living room. When parents set this kind of example, children are more likely to try to emulate them and read on their own as well! #NCReads#NCEd

NC Reads Confusing New Amendments Tip: When reading the newly worded amendments at home, try to do so in a place where your family can see you reading, like a living room. When parents start getting irritated because they can’t decipher the NCGA’s wording, children will more than likely understand that the NCGA is deliberately confusing people. #NCReadsConfusingNewAmendments.

ncreads

 

 

Top 10 Reasons You Can’t Fairly Evaluate Teachers on Student Test Scores

gadflyonthewallblog

Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 12.49.24 AM

I’m a public school teacher.

Am I any good at my job?

There are many ways to find out. You could look at how hard I work, how many hours I put in. You could look at the kinds of things I do in my classroom and examine if I’m adhering to best practices. You could look at how well I know my students and their families, how well I’m attempting to meet their needs.

Or you could just look at my students’ test scores and give me a passing or failing grade based on whether they pass or fail their assessments.

It’s called Value-Added Measures (VAM) and at one time it was the coming fad in education. However, after numerous studies and lawsuits, the shine is fading from this particularly narrow-minded corporate policy.

Most states that evaluate their teachers using VAM do so because under President Barack Obama they…

View original post 1,822 more words

North Carolina Has a Huge Urban/Rural Divide – Our Public Education System Can Build and Be a Strong Bridge

Below is a map of how counties voted in the past presidential election.

2016 map

Lots of red in rural areas. Blue in metropolitan places and where the most attended colleges and universities are located. Those blue counties in the northeast are mostly African-American in population.

Mix these colors up as they are shaded and we get a fairly purple shade. But looking at the map broken down by the 100 counties in North Carolina, it is apparent that we as a state have a very deep and wide urban/rural divide.

North Carolina has 100 counties, each with a county public school system (and 15 other city school systems). According to the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Dept. of Commerce, the public schools are at least the second-largest employers in nearly 90 of them—and the largest employer, period, in over 60. That means educators, administrators, and support staffs represent a base for most communities.

Simply put, it means the public school system is as concrete a foundation in every county in North Carolina from the reddest rural municipalities to the bluest urban districts.

Every state budget makes public education its highest monetary commitment. It has to be that way; the state constitution that presides over us stipulates that.

Our state (like all the other states) attracts industry, talent, and other priceless investments because of the strength of our existing infrastructure. But that infrastructure is only as strong as the very aspects that help to keep the state connected. And in a time where we have growing political polarities not just between political parties but within political parties, we have a deep urban / rural divide.

Public education bridges that divide.

When we as a state fully invest in public education, we invest in our students, our growth, our future, our economy, and most importantly our common connections.

And public education is based on the human aspect. People. Investing in public education means investing in people and fully funding the very resources and development those people need to help the most important people: our students.

Whether one sends his / her children to private schools or home schools them. the state of the public education system still affects them greatly. Whether one has no children in school but owns a business and hires people, the state of the public education system still affects them greatly. Anybody who owns a home or real estate knows that the strength of the local school system has an effect on the value of their property.

In some direct or indirect way, the effect of a strong public education system can be seen and felt in so many facets of both rural and urban localities that to try and identify those effects would require its own dissertation – from a public university.

Yes, public education is a political issue, but it does not have to be a partisan one. It shouldn’t be partisan. Decades ago, public education was championed by both democrats and republicans alike. Think of governors like Holshousher and Martin and you will see a commitment to funding public education like NC saw with Sanford, Hunt, and Easley. The governor’s office and the General Assembly were often in different hands politically speaking, but on the issue of public education, they stood much more united than it is today.

They wanted to make sure there was a bridge over any urban / rural divide.

The surest way to help keep strong connections in our state is to make sure that those who are in power as politicians are pro-public education, not just with their words, but with their actions.

Bridges are great constructs. No matter how deep the chasm or the divide. they help connect different sides.